Today is Ruthie's due date.
You would think the due date was out the window and unimportant once she decided to come early. That's how I thought it would be, until we spent time in the NICU and her age was counted not by how long she's been out, but rather how long she was in. She was 34 weeks old when she was born, and they continued to count her gestational age rather than birth age.
Her gestational age is now 40 weeks, she is now theoretically prepared to be part of the world. (nevermind that she's been here 6 weeks already, obviously she wasn't really prepared when she first came out) But as a parent, it is a small breath of relief. True, she still is a pretty small baby. And if she gets sick with a cold she still has a greater risk of RSV (basically back to the NICU and onto a respirator to keep her lungs going) and a greater risk of SIDS. But now it feels like she is a bit more normal; more on the same scale as the other newborns that came out closer to on schedule. We also have a bit more practice as parents, and I am much more confident I'm not going to mess her up for life by forgetting to wash behind her ears when she gets her bath. For that matter, even baths were intimidating when we first got home as she had such a hard time maintaining body temperature. Now they are no big deal.
As I sit here typing with my baby sleeping (noisily I might add) on my chest in her wrap, I feel like we have passed a milestone more important than the number of months she's been in this world. Now, she's supposed to be on my chest, rather than in my belly. And while I still pause and hold my breath whenever she does for a few seconds, I don't feel that same sense of panic and start patting her to get her breathing again. I just give her a few seconds to get going on her own, without my help. I guess that is one of the true signs of growth. More and more she will learn to do things on her own, and I will practice stepping back and letting her grow and develop into the beautiful young woman she will someday be.